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Opa-locka, Florida facts for kids

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City of Opa-locka

Opa-tisha-wocka-locka (Seminole)
Opa-locka City Hall
Opa-locka City Hall
Official seal of City of Opa-locka
Location in Miami-Dade County and the state of Florida
Location in Miami-Dade County and the state of Florida
U.S. Census Bureau map showing city limits
U.S. Census Bureau map showing city limits
Country  United States of America
State  Florida
County Miami-Dade
Incorporated May 14, 1926
 • Type Council-Manager
 • City 4.48 sq mi (11.61 km2)
 • Land 4.31 sq mi (11.16 km2)
 • Water 0.17 sq mi (0.45 km2)  3.13%
7 ft (2 m)
 • City 16,463
 • Density 3,821.49/sq mi (1,475.60/km2)
 • Metro
Time zone UTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
Zip Codes
Area code(s) 305, 786
FIPS code 12-51650

Opa-locka is a city located in Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the population was 15,219. The city was developed by Glenn Curtiss. Developed based on a One Thousand and One Nights theme, Opa-locka has the largest collection of Moorish Revival architecture in the Western Hemisphere, and streets with such names as Sharazad Boulevard, Sinbad Avenue, Sabur Lane, Sultan Avenue, Ali Baba Avenue, Perviz Avenue, and Sesame Street. Opa-locka has an area of 4.2 square miles (11 km2; 2,700 acres) and is located in the northwestern area of Miami-Dade County, Florida.

The name Opa-locka is an abbreviation of a Seminole place name, spelled Opa-tisha-wocka-locka (or Opatishawockalocka), meaning "wooded hummock" or "high, dry hummock."


Opa-locka was founded by aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss in 1926. Curtiss developed the city with a Moorish architecture theme. While the 1926 Miami hurricane badly damaged the city and brought the Florida land boom to a halt, several Moorish-style buildings survived. Twenty of the original Moorish Revival architecture buildings have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Opa-locka Thematic Resource Area.

Amelia Earhart launched her historic trip around the world from Miami Municipal Airport, just south of Opa-locka. The famous German dirigible Graf Zeppelin visited Naval Air Station Miami, which later became Opa-locka Airport, as a regular stop on its Germany-Brazil-United States-Germany scheduled route.

The city was the first community in the United States to commemorate the first African-American President of the United States. A mile-long section of Perviz Avenue — from Oriental Boulevard to Ali Baba Avenue — was renamed Barack Obama Avenue on February 17, 2009.

In addition to the unique buildings, Opa-locka has a large general aviation airport, three parks, two lakes and a railroad station which is currently the tri-rail station. The city is a mixture of residential, commercial and industrial zones. The city was the backdrop for the making of movies such as "Living Dreams", Texas Justice, Bad Boys II and 2 Fast 2 Furious.

On June 1, 2016, Florida Governor Rick Scott issued Executive Order Number 16-135, declaring the City of Opa-Locka to be in a state of "Financial Emergency" under Florida Statute Section 218.503. According to the Executive Order:

  • The Opa-Locka City Commission had met on the same day, requesting that the governor declare the financial emergency.
  • The state and the City of Opa-Locka were to execute a State and Local Agreement of Cooperation, which binds the city's actions.
  • The government would appoint a Financial Emergency Board.

On the same day, the Miami Herald reported that "Millions of dollars are in arrears as the city teeters on the edge of bankruptcy" and "City officials remain under an FBI corruption investigation" The article also reported that this financial emergency was the second declared for the city since 2002.

Just over a week earlier, Opa-Locka Commissioner Terence Pinder, apparently drove his SUV into a tree at high speed, which killed him. He was scheduled to turn himself over to prosecutors the next day, having faced bribery charges.

On June 10, Governor Scott named the Financial Emergency Board, consisting of:

  • Melinda Miguel – Florida Chief Inspector General, Executive Office of Governor Rick Scott
  • Christian Weiss – Policy Coordinator, Executive Office of Governor Rick Scott
  • Kim Mills – Director of Auditing, Florida Housing Finance Corporation
  • Andrew Collins – Chief of Financial Monitoring and Accountability, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
  • Angela Knecht – Program Administrator, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
  • Marie Walker – Director of Auditing, Florida Department of Revenue
  • J.D. Patterson, Jr. – Former Director of the Miami-Dade Police Department (Retired)
  • Vernita Nelson – Assistant City Manager, City of Miami Gardens
  • Frank Rollason – City Manager, North Bay Village

The City of Opa-Lacka does not have an Audit Committee to help select the public accountant to perform the independent audited financial statements, as required by Florida Statute 218.391 (2)


Opa-locka is located at 25°54′04″N 80°15′03″W / 25.901218°N 80.250824°W / 25.901218; -80.250824.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.5 square miles (12 km2). 4.3 square miles (11 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (3.13%) is water.

Surrounding areas


Historical population
Census Pop.
1930 339
1940 497 46.6%
1950 5,271 960.6%
1960 9,810 86.1%
1970 11,902 21.3%
1980 14,460 21.5%
1990 15,283 5.7%
2000 14,951 −2.2%
2010 15,219 1.8%
2020 16,463 8.2%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Opa-locka, Florida - Demographic Profile
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race Pop 2010 Pop 2020 % 2010 % 2020
White (NH) 323 317 2.12% 1.93%
Black or African American (NH) 9,336 8,227 61.54% 49.97%
Native American or Alaska Native (NH) 21 15 0.14% 0.09%
Asian (NH) 27 40 0.18% 0.24%
Pacific Islander (NH) 1 2 0.01% 0.01%
Some Other Race (NH) 21 66 0.14% 0.40%
Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH) 82 192 0.54% 1.17%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 5,378 7,604 35.34% 46.19%
Total 15,219 16,463 100.00% 100.00%

Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race

2010 United States Census

Opa-locka Demographics
2010 Census Opa-locka Miami-Dade County Florida
Total population 15,219 2,496,435 18,801,310
Population, percent change, 2000 to 2010 +1.8% +10.8% +17.6%
Population density 3,535.8/sq mi 1,315.5/sq mi 350.6/sq mi
White or Caucasian (including White Hispanic) 27.7% 73.8% 75.0%
(Non-Hispanic White or Caucasian) 2.1% 15.4% 57.9%
Black or African-American 65.8% 18.9% 16.0%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 35.3% 65.0% 22.5%
Asian 0.2% 1.5% 2.4%
Native American or Native Alaskan 0.2% 0.2% 0.4%
Pacific Islander or Native Hawaiian 0.2% 0.0% 0.1%
Two or more races (Multiracial) 2.1% 2.4% 2.5%
Some Other Race 3.8% 3.2% 3.6%

As of 2010, there were 5,966 households, out of which 14.8% were vacant. In 2000, 41.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 28.4% were married couples living together, 35.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.7% were non-families. 24.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.97 and the average family size was 3.52.

In 2000, the city's population was distributed as 34.6% under the age of 18, 12.3% from 18 to 24, 26.8% from 25 to 44, 17.7% from 45 to 64, and 8.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 27 years. For every 100 females, there were 85.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 77.1 males.

In 2000, $25,000 was the median income for a family. Males had a median income of $22,347 versus $19,270 for females. The per capita income for the city is approximately $15,000. About 31.5% of families and 35.2% of the population are below the poverty line, including 42.3% of those under age 18 and 40.8% of those age 65 or over.

As of 2000, speakers of English as a first language accounted for 68.45%, while Spanish made up 28.30%, French Creole 2.78%, and French was at 0.48% of the population.

As of 2000, Opa-locka had the 46th-highest percentage of Cuban residents in the US, with 9.58% of its populace. It had the forty-ninth highest percentage of Dominican residents in the US, at 2.59% of the city's population, and the fifty-second highest percentage of Haitian residents in the US, at 2.90% of its population (tied with four other areas, including Palm Springs, Florida). It also had the forty-third most Jamaicans in the US, at 3.00% (tied with Margate,) while it had the nineteenth highest percentage of Nicaraguans, at 2.22% of all residents.


The Opa-locka Branch library is one of the 49 branches included within the Miami-Dade Public Library System. This branch is open to the public on weekdays offering an After School Club and Storytime for children.


Opa-locka had 30 houses of worship in 1996. During that year, Oscar Musibay of the Miami New Times said, "Like South Beach has hotels, Opa-locka has churches."


Opa Locka FL RR station02
The modern Opa-Locka Tri-Rail commuter station, next door to the former Opa-Locka Railroad Station built by the Seaboard Air Line Railroad and now on the National Register of Historic Places

Opa-locka is served by Opa-locka Executive Airport, owned and operated by the Miami-Dade County Aviation Department.

Additionally, Opa-locka is served by Miami-Dade Transit buses and by Tri-Rail via the Opa-locka Station.

In popular culture

  • Opa-locka is featured in the landmark 1969 documentary film Salesman, by the Maysles Brothers.
  • An instrumental song on Hawkwind's 1975 album Warrior on the Edge of Time is named "Opa-Loka", but any connection to the town is unclear. The song eventually had lyrics added to it on a later album (PXR5) and morphed into "Uncle Sam's on Mars".
  • In the 1991 film Soapdish, the leading character played by Kevin Kline is a down-and-out actor reduced to drunkenly performing the role of Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman at the fictitious "Opa-Locka Dinner Theater."
  • Opa-locka is mentioned in the 1995 action movie The Substitute by a black student who is being disciplined by Tom Berenger.


Miami-Dade County Public Schools serves Opa-locka.

Dr. Robert B. Ingram/Opa-locka Elementary School is located in Opa-locka. North Dade Middle School in Miami Gardens and Hialeah/Miami Lakes Senior High in Hialeah serve the city.

Opa Locka FL plaza01
An Arab-inspired plaza entrance
Opa Locka FL Root Building maybe01
A building with Moorish features

Notable people

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Opa-locka para niños

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